The California Missions On-Line Project
Mission San Antonio de Padua
Founded July 14, 1771

Founding of the mission

Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded on July 14, 1771 by Father Junipero Serra, Presidente of the California Missions. It was the 3rd mission in the 21 mission chain in Alta California. The name of the mission means, Saint Anthony of Padua of the Oaks. Father Serra left two priests at the mission to begin the buildings, they were Father Miguel Pieras and Father Buenaventura Sitjar. In 1774, there were 178 Indians, 68 cattle and 7 horses at the mission. The building of the church did not actually begin until 1810. By 1805 there were 1,300 Indians living at the mission and in 1827, the mission had 7,362 cattle, 11,000 sheep, 500 mares and colts and 300 horses.

Back to the top

Local Indians
Click here to see a video of the Indian Cemetery

The story of the Indians at this mission begins on the day of Father Serra's first mass. A curious Indian boy watched the mass that dedicated Mission San Antonio de Padua. Afterwards Father Serra offered him gifts. He treated the Indian so kindly that he brought members of his tribe to meet Father Serra. These friendly Indians were always helpful and loyal through all the years that San Antonio was a working mission. In 1774, there were 178 Indians living at the mission. By 1805, the total was 1,300. In 1834 after the secularization laws went into effect, the total number of Indians at the mission was only 150.

Back to the top

Economy of the mission
Click here to see a video of the original wine vat and cellar

The economy at Mission San Antonio de Padua was similar to the other missions in that they planted crops of wheat and corn. They also planted vineyards, and raised cattle and sheep. The agriculture was needed not only to maintain the mission community and the nearby Indians, but was used for trade and served to visitors to the mission. Some of the shops at the mission were a weavery, a room for carding and spinning wool, a tannery for treating leather, a carpenter shop, a stable, and a harness shop.

Back to the top

The community
Click here to see a video Inside the Mission Quadrangle

Mission San Antonio is one mission which grew rapidly and maintained itself very well. The mission was self supporting and self sufficient. However, no town grew up around the mission as so many did at the other missions. Today the nearest city is King City, nearly 29 miles away. Jolon, a small town, is 6 miles from the mission. The mission padres and Indians built their own buildings and lived peacefully for many years.

Back to the top


After Mexico won its independence from Spain, it found that it could no longer afford to keep the missions running as Spain had done. In 1834, Mexico decided to end the mission system and sell all of the lands. They offered the lands to the Indians who did not want the lands or could not come up with the purchase price. The lands were divided into smaller Ranchos and sold to Mexican citizens who were helpful during the war for independence. In 1845, Governor Pio Pico declared Mission buildings for sale and no one even bids for San Antonio. After nearly 30 years, the missions were returned to the Catholic Church. Although some of the missions had already been returned to the church, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Act declaring that all of the 21 missions in the California mission chain would become the property of the Catholic Church and have remained so since that time.

Back to the top


The first attempt at rebuilding the mission came in 1903, when the California Landmark League rebuilt the church walls. It took nearly 50 years to completely restore the mission. In the 1940's, The Hearst Foundation gave the church $50,000 for repairs. In 1928, Franciscan Friars returned to San Miguel and also held services at San Antonio de Padua.

Back to the top

Current use
Click here to see a video of the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation

The Mission is surrounded by the Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation which was acquired by the Army from Hearst during World Was II to train troops. Additional land was acquired from the Army in 1950 to bring the total mission acreage to over 85 acres. This fort is still actively training troops today.

Back to the top

Graphic tour
Click below to see a video Inside the Mission Church
Back to the top

Mission Quiz

Objective: answer 7 questions correctly. JavaScript required!

1. Who was the founder of Mission San Antonio de Padua?

Juan Bautista de Anza
Gaspar de Portola
Junipero Serra
Sebastian Vizcaino

2. Mission San Antonio de Padua was founded....?

July 14, 1771
September 21, 1769
May 5, 1783
June 14, 1804

3. Who was left in charge to start the Mission?

Fr. Miguel Pieras
both a and c
Fr. Buenaventure Sitjar
Fr. Junipero Serra

4. When was the final church structure started?


5. Who did the actual building of the missions?

construction companies
the priests
the soldiers
the local Indians

6. What happened to the missions in 1834?

They opened
The Indians took over

7. Who began rebuilding the church in 1903?

Local Indians
California Mission Rebuilding Society
California Landmark League
Franciscan Priests

8. What is the name of the military reservation surrounding the Mission?

Camp Pendleton
Navajo reservation
Fort Hunter Liggett Reservation
Father Serra Reservation

9. What happened in 1928?

An earthquake
Missions were returned to the Catholic church
Franciscan Friars returned to San Miguel and held services at San Antonio de Padua

10. What did Abraham Lincoln agree to in 1863?

Formally return the Mission lands to the Church
Run for President of the United States
Visit the San Antonio de Padua Mission
force the Indians to leave the Mission

Back to the top

The Mission Page | The Assessment Page |Main Page

Other San Antonio de Padua sites:

The Spanish Missions of California

California Missions Interactive Homepage

California Missions

Summary History of Mission San Antonio de Padua - History of the foundation of the Mission and construction of the earliest church, its replacement by later structures, its decay after secularization and eventual reconstruction. Bibliography.

Summary History of the San Antonio Valley - How the San Antonio Valley was bypassed by the railroad and later highway development, thus preserving intact its rural isolation and many of the historic structures in it.

This project written by Rob Garretson in partial fulfilment of the Master's of Arts Degree from Cal Poly Pomona

Please send questions and/or comments to Mr. Garretson

This page last updated on February 28, 2015